Home Water Quality Testing with H2S

Community member checking the results of the test

MSABI is introducing  a new project: “Water Quality Testing Detecting Hydrogen Sulphide Producing Bacteria for use in Tanzania” funded by USAID and Florida International University (FIU). This project involves testing of water used at the household level. For the test, water from local sources or households is mixed in with the test material in a small vial. Over the next 24 hours, the test material detects the hydrogen sulphide (H2S) produced by bacteria in the water. If the test material in the vial turns brown or black, that means there is H2S in the water, which means there are also bacteria in the water. If it stays yellow, there are no (or very few) H2S producing bacteria in the water.

The advantage of the H2S test is that it is low-cost, does not require sample transportation for analysis, or a laboratory of expensive equipment. Most importantly it is easy to understand and carry out in the field. Awareness of potable water quality at a community level is a critical step towards adoption of improved water solutions, such as improved sources or water treatment solutions.

 Test kit and instruction booklet ready for sale

We have started testing the use and market potential of the affordable H2S water testing technology amongst communities in the Kilombero District. The H2S kits have been distributed through local government, local pharmacies and MSABI community education teams, and sales and customer satisfaction will be monitored for the duration of this study.

Test training session

Local government agencies in Kidatu responded positively to the training, and one of the local government representatives stated that:

“From the results of the H2S test, we now know that the water we are using is not safe….We need to start treating our water and teaching our community to treat their water also.”

MSABI demonstrating the results of an open well test

Currently the MSABI education team is using the test as a WASH sensitization tool. Household water sources are tested and the results are then presented within the community to demonstrate the risks of unsafe water. There has been a positive response from the community, and we will monitor if there are changes in their water and sanitation practices over time as a result. One of the community members whose water source was tested said, “The lesson learned through water testing is an important one and needs to be taught across the district.”